Fourth Sunday of Lent

Half way through Lent, today is called Laetare (Rejoice) Sunday, because the Introit of the Mass is "Rejoice, O Jersualem". The Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem is chosen as the station church today because of its connection to Jerusalem.

It is one of the seven churches that traditionally pilgrims visit in Jubilee years, including also the four major basilicas, St. Lawrence Outside the Walls and St. Sebastian Outside the Walls. This route was suggested by the Oratorian founder St. Philip Neri.

Helen, Emperor Constantine's mother, went to Jerusalem on a "shopping spree" and brought back the all the precious relics that she could find, among which was the True Cross on which Christ died. The site of the present church was her palace, in which she built a chapel to house the relics. This St. Helen's Chapel can still be found today. Her son later transformed it to a basilica.

We'll return to this basilica, appropriately, on Good Friday.

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